05/14/08 — Goldsboro told parks need improvements

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Goldsboro told parks need improvements

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on May 14, 2008 1:55 PM

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission had a visitor at its meeting Tuesday night, but she wasn't there to just pat them on the back.

Judy Hills, a representative from the Eastern Carolina Council, came to speak to the commission about Goldsboro's recreation facilities, and the news wasn't good.

Ms. Hills is working on obtaining information for the Parks and Recreation Department to help with a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant -- one that could give the city $500,000 for Stoney Creek Park.

But first, she needed to visit all of the areas and find out what needed improvement.

She logged her journey through the recreational grounds and buildings with pictures, pinpointing which areas neeed the most attention -- items, she said, most people have simply overlooked or grown accustomed to, but that could hurt future visitors.

And, she added, while those facilities may "look nice from afar," when you get up close, you see things that need to be done.

"Most of these people have been coming here for years, and they don't notice these little things, like paint chipping. Your younger people, they won't want to come into a place that looks like that," she said.

So, step-by-step, she went through each park and picked it apart, making sure that everyone understood the thoughts and opinions of an outsider looking in.

The biggest downfall?

For many of the buildings, the age is the biggest downer.

Most of them have been there for a number of years. Herman Park Center, for example, has been in place since the late 1800s.

"I know most of the buildings you are working with are old, and there is not much you can do with that," Ms. Hills said.

And as for the parks, her biggest complaint was their locations.

"Your parks are mostly buried," she said. "They are tucked back away."

Most of them are behind neighborhoods, along back roads or at the end of roads, and because of that, she explained, even the people utilizing the parks don't feel safe in them.

"They're so remote," she said. "When I look at it, I think 'I wouldn't feel comfortable taking my kids there.'"

She also noted that many of the water fountains aren't workable or look so grimy that no one would want to use them.

And the bathrooms, she said, should be unlocked when people are using the parks and should include soap and either paper towels or a hand dryer -- which most of them do not. She added, though, that she does understand the need to lock them up to prevent damage or graffiti.

Other items on her list of improvements include updating garbage cans, using recycling bins, lowering signage, repainting, increasing the number of bike racks, replenishing sand in the playground areas, fixing the brick underneath the gazebo in Herman Park, fixing the roof on a shelter in H.V. Brown, updating the appeal of Mina Weil Park and pool, fixing cracks on the outside and inside of W.A. Foster Center and getting rid of standing water in the basement of the Goldsboro Municipal Golf Course building.

"If you don't so something to these places soon, you may lose them," Ms. Hills said, indicating that some of the structures may fall into disrepair.

"Goldsboro doesn't only serve Goldsboro," she said. "You provide for those families at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and all the unincorporated places around because the county doesn't really have a recreation area."

She understands that the Parks and Recreation Department does "the best with what they have."

"I don't want any blame to be placed on the staff. They are doing a good job," she said to the commission.

Money and resources are needed to bring the facilities back into shape, but she said she knows getting that money is a hard thing to do.

She said she hopes that the commission can help come up with inexpensive ways to update the facilities.

And, she is hoping that with city officials still discussing the budget that something can be done on the money end.

Councilman Don Chatman, who is also a member of the commission, requested that she bring the same presentation to the City Council's work session Monday in order for them to consider starting some of the renovations.

Ms. Hills also asked the commission to discuss whether the number of sports and recreation areas was adequate.

Commission members found that there was an adequate amount of baseball and softball fields, football fields and outdoor basketball courts. They believed the city could use more soccer fields, indoor basketball courts, tennis courts, volleyball courts, picnic shelters, overall park acreage and indoor swimming pools.